US Open hit by Covid crisis as Paire tests positive
A Covid-19 crisis erupted on the eve of the US Open as Benoit Paire, the 17th seed, tested positive for the virus. Organisers launched a track and trace programme after fears that the infection could spread throughout the tournament hotel.
Paire was said to be “asymptomatic” in a US Open statement, but the worry is that he could have been spreading Covid-19 since his arrival in New York on Aug 18. Four days later he withdrew from his first match in the Western and Southern Open citing illness. He has been tested several times since
and came up negative. Kristina Mladenovic is among the French players spotted playing cards with Paire, who is a famously social person. Two more compatriots – Richard Gasquet and Adrian Mannarino – were told to confine themselves to their rooms with reports Gregoire Barrere, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and coach Nicolas Copin were doing likewise.
The United States Tennis Organisation is using tracking chips implanted in the players’ accreditation badges to try to work out who has been in contact with Paire. “We know it was one of the risks if you test positive or if one of your team members tests positive,” said Caroline Garcia, the French No 3. “Of course, it’s very disappointing.”
Johanna Konta, the British No 1, said: “I just found out and it was like, ‘Oh wow, really?’ It was always going to take us by surprise and be a bit shocking and worrisome if a player tested positive. It’s not a full bubble and there are still some people working for the tournament who are coming in and out.”
In any normal tournament, a lucky loser from qualifying would have been called in as a replacement for Paire. But there is no qualifying event at this biosecure US Open, so the spot has gone to Marcel Granollers, from Spain. Paire has been told to self-isolate in his room.